During commercial exploration the crew of longliner “Vostok-7” caught rare unusual skilfish.

During commercial exploration the crew of longliner “Vostok-7” caught rare unusual skilfish.

On June 10, 2018, longliner “Vostok-7” leaved for experimental voyage from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy to research deep-sea fishing perspectives in the area of Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain. In addition to the crew, Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries representatives were on the board of longliner “Vostok-7” to research deep-sea fish biomass in this area. One of the first results of commercial exploration was a very unusual catch. Several fishes known as skilfish (Erilepis zonifer) had been caught by the crew. The length of the largest specimen was more than 2 meters. This is a record for this species as the maximum officially registered size for skilfish was considered 1.8 meters. Having caught unusual and large fish, the crew of longliner "Vostok-7" became a participant of the competitions called "The most unusual by-catch. Catch luck by the tail", which was held among ship-owners from July 1 to September 30, 2018, participating in the testing of the electronic fishing log. As the results of the competitions, the winner was the crew of the longliner “Vostok-7”. For the first place the vessel “Vostok-7” was provided with a 30% discount on support services for the electronic fishing log software package in 2019.

Skilfish (Erilepis zonifer) is the only species in its genus. It is one of two members of the fish family Anoplopomatidae that includes only two species - black cod and skilfish. Skilfish has a distribution from the Japanese island of Honshu on the western Pacific coast and southern California on the east coast. On the north skilfish reaches the Aleutian Islands. It lives mainly at depths of up to 500 meters. Adult specimen can reach up to 1.8 meters in length and weigh over 90 kilograms. Skilfish meat is quite fatty so it is a great candidate for dishes like sashimi.

Skilfish is a very special guest in the fishermen's catches. In the beginning of 1950s there were two cases of small species catch in high seas, after that for over 40 years there was no catch of skilfish in waters of Russia. Only in 1995 the first adult specimen (1.2 m) had been caught in waters of North Kuril Islands.

Totally, in 1990s in the boundaries of research of insufficiently explored and underutilized North Pacific fishes, scientists of Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries recorded 7 cases of skilfish catch in waters of Russia.

Finally, in 2018 in the boundaries of experimental voyage to discover new fishing grounds and development of new depths, this rare, large, delicacy fish had been caught by the crew of longliner “Vostok-7”.